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Current Issues: Military Recruitment at Yale Law School

Yale Law School's Career Development Office helps students and graduates identify career objectives and obtain employment that meets those objectives. The office arranges twice-yearly interview programs and provides career and contact information for employers and students.

Yale Law School has a long-standing nondiscrimination policy, adopted in 1978, which states that:

Yale Law School is committed to a policy against discrimination based upon age, color, handicap or disability, ethnic or national origin, race, religion, religious creed, gender (including discrimination taking the form of sexual harassment), marital, parental or veteran status, sexual orientation, or the prejudice of clients. All employers using the school's placement services are required to abide by this policy.

The Law School will give access to, but will not aid, employers who refuse to follow this policy. An employer who is unwilling or unable to abide by the policy in its entirety is not barred from campus, or from recruiting. Such an employer may independently arrange to meet with interested students at the Law School or elsewhere. Such an employer, however, may not avail itself of the interview-coordination services provided by CDO.


The Solomon Amendment and its Effect on Military Recruitment at Law Schools

A 1995 federal statute known as the Solomon Amendment states that any school that refuses to allow military recruiters on campus could lose its government funding. Because the Law School has always permitted military recruiters on campus, it has been acting consistently with this law.

In 2002, the federal government began to implement a stricter interpretation of the Amendment, and informed Yale Law School that the School was no longer in compliance with the terms of the Amendment. Although Yale Law School continued to provide the military with access to its students and the military were permitted on campus, the School continued its practice of not permitting military recruiters to participate in its off-campus interview program without signing the School's nondiscrimination policy. Faced with the threat of the loss of approximately $350 million in federal funds that could be withheld from Yale University, the faculty of the Law School voted in 2002 to suspend temporarily and to the minimum extent necessary the application of the nondiscrimination policy to military recruiters, pending a legal resolution of the definitive interpretation of the Solomon Amendment.

After negotiations between the University and the federal government failed to achieve resolution of the matter, 45 members of the faculty filed a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the Solomon Amendment. The U.S. District Court for the District of Connecticut recently ruled in favor of the faculty's claim (see Dean Harold Hongju Koh's message to the Law School Community on February 2, 2005).

Following this decision and similar rulings in other suits around the country, Yale Law School returned to its decades-old policy of requiring employers to sign the School's nondiscrimination policy before participating in its off-campus interview program.

Military Recruitment at Yale Law School Today

Yale Law School does not now ban military recruiters from campus, nor has it ever done so. In fact, the Law School does not bar any employer from entering the building and meeting with interested students. For example, during the Law School's recent Spring Interview Program, a student who wished to interview with the military met with a recruiter at length in the Law School dining hall.

Yale Law School students are free to meet with recruiters or any other employers who are unwilling or unable to abide by the School's nondiscrimination policy. In addition, all of the information submitted by recruiters--including contact information--is made fully available to students. The Law School's policy withholds assistance, but not access, from employers who continue to discriminate.

Litigation

In Burt et al. v. Rumsfeld, the Federal District Court in Bridgeport, Connecticut has declared the Department of Defense's application of the Solomon Amendment to Yale Law School unconstitutional and has permanently enjoined the law's application to YLS. On May 2, 2005, the Supreme Court granted certiorari in Rumsfeld vs. Forum for Academic and Institutional Rights (FAIR), in which the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit held, parallel to the Bridgeport District Court, that the Government's application of the Solomon Amendment to law schools with antidiscrimination policies similar to Yale Law School's violated the First Amendment. The FAIR case will likely be argued before the U.S. Supreme Court in November or December. In the Burt case, the YLS faculty plaintiffs have petitioned to the Supreme Court for a writ of certiorari before judgment, which would allow their case to be heard by the Supreme Court at same time as the FAIR case. The Supreme Court has not yet acted on the Burt plaintiffs' petition.

Conclusion

Yale Law School does not exclude any speaker or point of view. The School also believes that, under the U.S. Constitution, no one may be required, as a condition of federal funding, to promote a message of employment discrimination. Recent court decisions regarding the application of the Solomon Amendment in the Third Circuit and the USDCt for Connecticut have upheld that view.

Yale Law School is an equal opportunity employer and it supports employers who offer equal opportunity. The School looks forward to the day when all members of its community have an equal opportunity to serve in the nation's Armed Forces.

Related Documents:
District Court Ruling
Petition for Cert Before Judgment in Burt
Third Circuit decision in FAIR v. Rumsfeld (to be reviewed by the U.S. S.Ct.)